Quit rejoicing about death.

Here’s an excellent article on things Christians and atheists should be able to agree on.


Notice before we even get to the list, the first thing is that celebrating the death of somebody you disagree with is a bad thing. When I posted this, I actually don’t recall if it was to a Christian or an atheist forum, the very first thing people attacked was, you guessed it, the part about celebrating people’s death. They seemed to feel they were perfectly justified and had every right to do so.

So a friend asked, “well if Glenn Beck or Bachmann or Palin had something happen to them, how would you react? Like let’s say Bachmann died in a car accident?” My response was, “that would suck”. He responded, “why, don’t you think she’s dangerous if she got power?”

Well I say, let’s quit pussyfooting around here. The real question is something like this. “Isn’t it totally awesome that Hitler’s dead? Shouldn’t we have cheered in the streets about that?” No, and here’s why. What you really want is Hitler to be stopped. That’s what had to happen. To me, it’s like these hypothetical questions.

If you were on a plane and it got hijacked, and the guy had a bomb and the only way to stop him was to kill him, would you do it to save the thirty thousand other people on the plane?

My first question is, why? Why must I kill him? Surely I could knock him out or something. Obviously you could construct your hypothetical to eliminate all alternatives, or just stipulate that, for whatever mysterious reasons we need not go into, killing him is the only way. But the question still stands, what happened to the alternatives? In the real world, they generally exist. What we really want is our hypothetical hijacker to be stopped. If we can do it without killing him, so much the better, I say.

So same goes for Hitler, IMO, or Bachmann, or insert whomever you think would be dangerous holding political office or whatever. The real goal is to stop them. That doesn’t necessarily need to involve death, and even if it does, it seems peculiar to me to rejoice in the death itself, as opposed to rejoicing in the fact that the danger was averted or stopped from going any further.

So that’s my take on why you shouldn’t rejoice at the death of other people. First of all, they’re human beings, with families and so forth. Second of all, in the case of the usual figures trotted out to support the case, it’s not really what you’re after anyway, you want whatever they’re doing to cease. So fine, rejoice about that all you like. But I don’t see getting all jazzed about death or other bad things happening to people.

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2 Responses to Quit rejoicing about death.

  1. Ed Heil says:

    Confession: I was honestly thinking earlier today about how awesome it would be if Michelle Bachman was dead. True story.That doesn’t mean I think that was a worthy or moral thought for me to have, though. It wasn’t. But I’m not always a very good person.The "wouldn’t you save people by killing another person" question can be usefully addressed by coming up with a more outrageous hypothetical: "If the only way you could stop a terrible disaster was by killing an *innocent* person, would you do it?"That separates the "would you kill to save lives?" question from the "would you kill a *bad person* to save lives?" issue.If they wouldn’t kill the innocent person, but would kill the bad person, then they have admitted that it’s not just about saving lives.For added outrage, subtitute for "killing an innocent person" whatever more horrific act on a more innocent victim you think you can get away with even mentioning.

  2. khomus says:

    Yeah. I’m in no way suggesting anybody castigate themselves or anybody else for that matter. I think this realization, for all the article’s cogency in presenting it as a sort of basic moral standpoint, is one of those things you really have to think about to get. Not in all cases of course, but I suspect for most of us it’s something that comes out of some level of thought, in other words, it’s not an instinctive reaction. <br/> <br/>I also think there’s a big difference between having some passing thought and, not precisely acting on that thought, but I’m not sure what to call it. Let’s say mentally acting on it. For example, somebody commented on Winehouse’s death that they were glad the inevitable had happened, as it were, because they were sick of reading about her. It turns out they were talking about CNN. Now I’m assuming if they didn’t want to read about her, they wouldn’t actually go and read the CNN articles about her, as that would be stupid. So as far as I can tell, reading about her on CNN consisted of seeing a passing headline every two months or so, since she’d kind of dropped off the radar lately, to my knowledge. <br/> <br/>So I mean, here’s this thought, and people questioned it, you’re really glad she’s dead just so you don’t have to read about her? Then we got lots of ranting about her horrible choices and about why should we be sad over a drug addict’s stupid choices, Etc. So that’s what I mean, this is kind of a cultivated thought, you know? This isn’t some thought somebody just had and posted without really thinking about it. It’s something they’re putting effort into defending and justifying, here’s why I can not just have apathy about the person’s death, but why I can actively ridicule them and be glad they’re dead. <br/> <br/>And don’t get me wrong here, that’s the big thing for me, this weird reaction. I’m not all weepy over Winehouse’s passing. I don’t really understand why she was famous to begin with, I don’t really think she had a lot of talent like some people claim, and I’m not rushing out to buy her music or anything. She’s not some tragically cut short rock god. But yeah, essentially going "cool that she’s dead" just so you don’t have to encounter her name every once in a while in the pre-coffee blur of the CNN scroll you read every morning is just, yeah. To quote South Park, "this is pretty fucked up right here".

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